Area Development Partnership and Pearl River Community College to Certify Greater Hattiesburg as an ACT Work Ready Community

September 6, 2018

  • Greater Hattiesburg, including all of Forrest and Lamar Counties, to join others across the state, region, and nation in workforce certification process
  • Certification will offer advancement of workforce development practices in Greater Hattiesburg region


Hattiesburg, MS. – (September 6, 2018)– Today, the Area Development Partnership (ADP) and Pearl River Community College (PRCC) announced their intent to undertake the ACT® Work Ready Communities initiative in an effort to certify Greater Hattiesburg, including all of Forrest and Lamar Counties, as a Work Ready Community. This initiative will assist in continuing to improve the capabilities of the Greater Hattiesburg region’s workforce.

“Workforce development is integral to economic development and to the vibrancy of all facets of our business community in Greater Hattiesburg,” says ADP Community Development Director, Daniel Jayroe. For this reason, workforce development efforts are at the top of the ADP’s priority list. The ADP is constantly looking for new ways to enhance these efforts, which has led the organization, in close partnership with PRCC, to pursue the ACT® Work Ready Communities certification.


Becoming a Work Ready Community will provide the ability to gauge the strength of the region’s future, transitioning, and current workforce through the completion of the ACT®WorkKeys® test by individuals in all stages of the workforce life cycle. ACT®WorkKeys® testing, and the resulting National Career Readiness Certificates gained from the test, will not only help industry and businesses as they seek new hires, but it will also help future and current job seekers as they look for employment. “Many people are familiar with the ACT college entrance exam, which the ACT®WorkKeys®  test can be easily compared to,” says Terri Clark, Dean of Career, Technical & Workforce Education at PRCC. “The outcome of a traditional ACT exam may be admittance to a college or university, but the outcome of an ACT®WorkKeys®  exam could be landing the job that you have been seeking.” Instead of receiving a score in the form of a numeral like the traditional ACT exam, ACT®WorkKeys®  test takers receive their score on a four-tier system, either gaining a Bronze, Silver, Gold or Platinum, with Platinum being the highest. These scores come in the form of a National Career Readiness Certificate, or NCRC®, and are based on how well test takers do in three categories: applied math, workplace documents, and graphic literacy.


Employers can use NCRC® scores to gauge job applicants based on their overall score or individual category scores achieved. Gene Escolas, HR Manager for Berry Global located in Hattiesburg, has been using the ACT®WorkKeys®  test for years for the purposes of pre-employment screening. “Using ACT®WorkKeys® and the NCRC® for hiring processes at Berry Global in Hattiesburg has significantly decreased turnover, saving our business both time and money,” says Escolas. NCRC® scores can also be used in the workplace for purposes of job advancement. The NCRC® scores don’t only prove beneficial for manufacturers or entry-level positions though. They can also provide a method of pre-employment screening for multiple hiring-levels and job-advancement in any industry including, but not limited to, healthcare, tourism and hospitality, education, banking and financial institutions, government entities, and more.


To become certified as an ACT Work Ready Community, testing goals, which are based on community demographics, must be met over a two-year period. These goals can be found by visiting and clicking on Forrest and/or Lamar County on the map. In addition to testing goals, there are goals related to employer support of the initiative that must be met.


The ADP and PRCC are excited to begin this endeavor and look forward to garnering the support of businesses and K-12 education entities throughout the Greater Hattiesburg region. Employers that would like to support the Work Ready Communities initiative, learn about how to get involved, or how to use ACT®WorkKeys®  in your pre-employment screening or advancement processes can learn more by visiting and clicking on Forrest and/or Lamar County on the map. Employers can also call Daniel Jayroe with the ADP at 601.296.7514 for more information. If you are a job seeker that would like to take the ACT®WorkKeys®  exam and earn your NCRC®, please visit the Hattiesburg WIN Job Center. Free testing opportunities are available.